And Angus McKenna, the father of the identical triplets in my McKenna's Daughters series, was headed to the gold fields when he and his wife joined the wagon train on the Oregon Trail.
After gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill in California in 1849, many would-be miners made their way across country by wagon train while others sailed nine months from the Eastern US, around the tip of South America to the western shores of California. Both ways to get there were hard and fraught with many dangers. Some miners even braved the mosquito infested Isthmus of Panama to get to the other side of our country. The 49ers, as the miners were called, had to be a hardy lot.
And after they arrived, many of them never found a speck of gold. Others, however, quickly became extremely wealthy. I know a lady in Oregon, whose family wealth came from the early gold mines.
At first the gold fields were a lawless wilderness, but before many years, law-abiding citizens banded together to spell out the laws. They hoped to calm down much of wanton violence and greed. In many places, they were successful. In others, not so much.
Another group of people on the gold fields were those like Angus McKenna. He went to the gold fields, not to prospect for the yellow mineral, but to sell the miners what they needed. Drinking water was at a premium. Basic mining tools, clothing, food, and other essentials were the gold the storekeepers provided the miners, saloons, and eventually families that settled there.
Notices like this one brought miners thronging to the tent stores.
Some unscrupulous men started saloons and even brothels. But many miners just yearned for a decent women.
When these women began arriving at the camp-like towns, the ratio to men to women was at least twelve men to one women. So they vied with each other for her hand. Often they were met by a number of miners who each offered a gift of gold dust that amounted to about $200 to the woman. Word reached civilized towns, and many a lonely and poor woman went to see what was going on.
A term coined during that time is still in use today, gold digger, which means a woman who is only interested in a man who has money.
Today, I'm going to give away a copy of that book to someone who leaves a comment. The winner will be announced tomorrow in the comments, so check back.
And I'd love for you to check out my McKenna's Daughter series as well.
I love to hear from my readers. You can find me on Facebook, on my website www.lenanelsondooley.com, and on other social media sites.
Lena, I didn't realize gold was discovered in New Mexico before California and Colorado. What great history. I can only imagine how tempting it would be for some poor, unmarried woman to be met by men offering money for marriage. Interesting thought. Thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
Thanks for stopping by, Nancy. I found a lot of interesting things about that time period.Delete
Interesting! I can imagine being a poor woman without anyone to take care of her, being independent and doing this. I once was niave enough to believe that any two people could live together. I found out differently when I married a man that I had only exchanged letters and telephone calls with, after one visit. I found that people can present themselves in a light where you are attracted to them, and can actually turn out to be quite different when you live with them.ReplyDelete
I love historical fiction (Christian)! And I'd love to read a story where it worked out in a positive way :)
Thanks for stopping by, Robin. I think you'll like Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico.Delete
Hello Lena. I found this post very interesting. I love to read books of this era. I never realized it was there that the saying "gold digger" started. Of course it is still a much used description of some people, women and men. I would love to win this book. If I don't win it I might have to borrow it from my daughter who has it. I have always been interested in your triplet series of the McKenna's Daughter series. I do have the first two by PDF now but still can't get the one about Catherine. I would love to have the print books on my bookshelves one day. Please put my name in for a chance to win. Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)comReplyDelete
Thanks for dropping by, Maxie. I'm glad you like my books. You'll definitely be in the drawing.Delete
I love stories set in he 1800's. You are also a new author for me and I look forward to reading your books. I will definitely be looking for the McKenna series. Thank you for the chance to win.ReplyDelete
Thanks for dropping by, Dorie. I would love to have you join the ranks of fans of Lena Nelson Dooley's books.Delete
I usually read a different era but you have piqued my interest!! =) Would love to read more about this interesting time period - thanks for the chance to win. truckredford(at)Gmail(Dot)comReplyDelete
Thanks for stopping by, Eliza. There are a lot of interesting stories set in the late 1800s, mine included.Delete
Just finished reading Maggie's journey! Lovely story, Lena. So descriptive and well-researched.ReplyDelete
Lena, just reading all your information has made me want to run out and buy your book. It sounds very interesting.ReplyDelete
Now I know the story behind a 'gold digger'. I knew what it meant but did not know the history of it. I really enjoy the LOVE FINDS YOU series and your book looks to be interesting about the gold rush. sharon, CA wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)comReplyDelete
Hi Lena! Your LFY in Golden sounds super cute - thanks for the chance to win a copy! I don't know where I though the term gold digger came from but it certainly wasn't what you just shared! Thanks for a great post!!ReplyDelete
kam110476 at gmail dot com
I will be looking out for your books, I enjoy period set novels a lot. And I see you have a series also, even better. If you have not drawn the winner yet, I'd live to be included in the draw.
I have to apologize to all of you. I didn't find a winner for this book until today. My last 8 days have been very hectic. But here I am, and the winner is: Eliza Elliott. I'll send you an email today.ReplyDelete